A Cathay Pacific Airbus A350. Photo: Supplied

European aircraft giant Airbus said Thursday it was able to limit its losses last year, even as the airline sector collapsed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Airbus said in a statement that it booked a net loss of 1.1 billion euros (US$1.3 billion) in 2020.

That was a slight improvement over the previous year’s bottom-line loss of 1.4 billion euros, when Airbus was hit with a huge fine of 3.6 billion euros in a corruption scandal.

The company’s fierce US rival Boeing had a massive loss of $11.9 billion last year as the Covid-19 crisis played out, combined with getting its key 737 MAX aircraft back in the air.

“The 2020 results demonstrate the resilience of Airbus in the most challenging crisis to hit the aerospace industry,” said chief executive Guillaume Faury. 

Group revenues plunged to 49.9 billion euros from 70.5 billion euros a year earlier, “driven by the difficult market environment impacting the commercial aircraft business with 34% fewer deliveries year-on-year,” Airbus said.

A total of 566 commercial aircraft were delivered, comprising 38 A220s, 446 A320s, 19 A330s, 59 A350s and four A380s, compared with 863 aircraft in 2019.

Airbus said it saw no immediate improvement for the industry’s prospects for now.

“Many uncertainties remain for our industry in 2021 as the pandemic continues to impact lives, economies and societies,” Faury said.